BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN Definitely Isn't
Sometimes I wait to pay attention to a certain musical until I can experience it fully. That was the case with Something Rotten!, currently on tour playing the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I've been impatiently avoiding listening to the music since its release...but let me tell you, the wait was worth it.
While I don't recommend this for every show, this one is brimming with jokes I was glad to experience live for the first time. And contextually, the show makes more sense as a whole package. (There's a lot going on.)
The Broadway show was nominated for nine Tony Awards in 2015 including Best Musical, nabbing just Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Christian Borle's performance as Shakespeare. The national tour is visiting Denver for the first time.
Directed by Casey Nicholaw, the original story follows the Bottom brothers, Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel (Josh Grisetti), who struggle to find success in the theatrical world of 1595 as they compete with William Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) and his rock-star status. When Nick sees soothsayer Nostradamus (Blake Hammond) to figure out Shakespeare's next big hit, the soothsayer misinterprets Hamlet as Omelette, featuring the classic as a musical with a breakfast theme. Meanwhile, Nigel finds love with a Puritan, Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), whose father is against nearly everything; Nick's wife, Bea (Maggie Lakis), tries to find work by impersonating men; and the Bottom brothers try to produce their breakfast musical.
While the plot is a bit erratic, the show basically calls for it. With music and lyrics by Wayne and Kary Kirkpatrick (who also conceived the book), every number is a showstopper, featuring an insane amount of tapping and physical humor. If you're a fan of musical theatre, the nods to Broadway are hysterical, and they just keep coming. It's been a while since I've laughed this ferociously at a musical.
The entire cast is vibrant, featuring standout performances from ever actor down to the smallest ensemble member. This cast works hard, and it shows. The scenic design by Scott Pask is elaborate and fun. Gregg Barnes costume design is perfectly decorative for the renaissance era and the choreography by Director Nicholaw is unstoppable.
With everything going on in the world outside the theatre, Something Rotten! was an enjoyable distraction from the madness. It always feels good to escape with a show that grabs every bit of your attention and carries you along for the ride. Now I can happily listen to this cast recording on repeat. Something rotten, this one ain't.
Something Rotten! plays the Buell Theatre with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through Oct. 29. For tickets and info, visit DenverCenter.org or call (303)893-4100.
Photos by Jeremy Daniel